Heads have yet to roll in Columbus

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First the answer to the question every Blue Jackets fan has been asking today. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports via Twitter that “nobody has been fired.”

That’s the good news for coach Scott Arniel and general manager Scott Howson. However, given their team’s 0-7-1 start to the season, things could be different soon.

Last night in Ottawa, the Jackets sunk to their lowest point yet, surrendering two goals in the last minute to lose, 4-3, to the Senators.

“It’s tough,” said Columbus captain Rick Nash. “It seems like we’re not getting any bounces. It seems like we’re finding ways to lose games instead of finding ways to win games. That’s the difference between good teams and bad teams right now.”

With all due respect to Nash, the difference between the Blue Jackets and good teams is a lot more than a bad bounce or two. Columbus is 25th in goals scored and 29th in goals against. The power play is terrible (26th) and the penalty killing is even worse (30th).

On the bright side, the Jackets are undefeated with James Wisniewski in the line-up, and he’ll be on the ice Tuesday at home versus the Red Wings, his lengthy suspension to start the season now over.

Sitting out the first eight games wasn’t the way Wisniewski wanted to begin his career in Columbus. The 27-year-old puck-moving defenseman signed a six-year, $33-million deal with the club this summer. And while he isn’t quite up there with the handful of elite blue-liners in the NHL, he didn’t get the big contract for nothing. Wisniewski had 51 points in 75 games last season, tied for fifth among all defensemen.

Forward Jeff Carter was the other big name Columbus added to the payroll during the offseason, coming over in a trade with Philadelphia. Carter is currently on injured reserve with a fracture foot, though he’s not expected to miss a significant amount of time with the injury. The 26-year-old has just three assists in five games, not exactly the production the Jackets were hoping for when they gave up a first- and a third-round pick, plus talented young forward Jakub Voráček.

It should also be noted that forward Kristian Huselius (torn pectoral) is out for at least another month. Huselius is a six-time 20-goal scorer in the NHL.

So, no, the Blue Jackets haven’t been able to put their best feet forward over their first eight games. And yes, there’s still time to turn things around.

But they’d better get going soon.

After hosting Detroit on Tuesday, Columbus heads out on a tough two-game road trip to Buffalo and Chicago.

Capitals’ Tom Wilson has a discipline hearing today for interference

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The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Saturday morning that it has scheduled a disciplinary hearing with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson as a result of his late hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas on Friday night.

It will be the first hearing for the department under the direction of its new leader, George Parros.

This particular incident happened early in the third period of the Blues’ 4-0 win on Friday night.

Here is a look at the entire sequence, including the fight that Wilson found himself in with Dmitri Jaskin in response to the hit.

It is clear that Wilson delivered his hit long after Thomas was in possession of the puck.

Even though Wilson always seems to be getting attention for some of his hits and physical play he has never been suspended in his career. His only punishment from the league has been in the form of two fines — one for diving/embellishment, and another for kneeing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary during the 2015-16 playoffs.

The fact that he has a hearing for his hit would seem to indicate a suspension might be on the horizon. The only question is whether or not it will just end his preseason (the Capitals still have four more games) or if it will carry over into the regular season.

Antti Niemi had to make a save with his bare hand

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Antti Niemi made 31 saves in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, and 30 of them were pretty standard.

The one that wasn’t came in the third period when he lost his glove during a scramble around the net and still managed to instinctively make a save on the puck. With his bare hand.

Niemi said after the game, via the Tribune Review, that he thought the referees would stop the play after his glove came off, and when they didn’t “I just kept playing.”

You can watch the play by clicking here.

Probably not the type of thing you want to see happening because that looks like a great way to break a bone (or the entire hand) and get sidelined for extended period of time. Niemi said the officials told him there will no longer be an automatic whistle for goalies losing a glove or a blocker, but that one will remain for when they lose their helmet.

The Penguins signed Niemi to a one-year contract this summer as a replacement for Marc-Andre Fleury after they lost him in the expansion draft to the Vegas Golden Knights. Niemi is looking to rebound from a tough year in Dallas. He will serve as Matt Murray‘s backup for the season.

‘A good start’ — Stamkos stands out in preseason debut

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The Tampa Bay Lightning and National Hockey League unveiled the 2018 All-Star Game logo Friday.

Far more importantly for the Bolts this evening was the return of their all-star center Steven Stamkos, as he made his preseason debut in what was his first game in 10 months.

His 2016-17 season was abruptly ended in the middle of November because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, making it the second time in four years his regular season had been disrupted by a major injury.

It may still take a while before Stamkos feels truly comfortable coming back from this injury.But his performance on Friday proved to be a very promising start for No. 91, the Bolts and their fans in Tampa Bay.

He didn’t score, but he assisted on two first period goals, including a nice set-up to linemate Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1. Stamkos also received a healthy dose of ice time, playing more than 19 minutes, including 5:32 on the power play.

His pass to Kucherov resulted in a power play goal.

“It was exciting to get out there, I was pretty anxious about it… It was a good start, something to build on,” said Stamkos afterward, per the Lightning. “It was nice to just go through a game day, I haven’t done it in a long time… I was glad with how the first one went.”

Golden Knights assign 2017 first-round picks Glass, Suzuki to junior

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The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make roster moves during their inaugural training camp.

On Friday, the expansion club assigned four players to junior. That includes 2017 first-round picks Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.

The Golden Knights made franchise history by taking Glass with the sixth overall pick and then selected Suzuki at 13th overall. Both players appeared in two preseason games for Vegas, each recording two points in the exhibition opener versus the Vancouver Canucks.

“Nobody is going to rush (the rookies), that’s for sure,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Sun following the club’s 9-4 win over Vancouver on Sunday.

“We are in a position where we want to make sure they are ready to play. They are going to be good players when they’re healthy and strong enough to play in the league.”

Vegas has all three 2017 first-round picks — Glass, Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — signed to three-year entry-level contracts.